SUITLAND, Md. – The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 will soon cease transmitting weather data after nearly three and a half years of operational service to DoD and civilian agencies.
On Feb. 11, 2016, operators lost the ability to command the satellite following a power failure within the command and control system. Since that time the satellite has provided tactical data to field units but has not provided full orbit weather imagery to the 557th Weather Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Monterey, Calif.
The DMSP operations team has remained in regular contact with the vehicle and continued to monitor telemetry since the February 2016 incident. However, the team acknowledged a loss of attitude control was unavoidable due to the inability to command. Once the satellite loses attitude control it will begin to tumble, causing the power system to deplete and all satellite transmissions to cease. The tumble is predicted to occur late next month. The Joint Space Operations Center will track the satellite and provide conjunction warnings if required.
There is no impact to the strategic weather mission, and the DMSP constellation remains able to support warfighter requirements through resilient systems and processes. The remainder of the constellation continues to provide weather and atmospheric data to users as it has for the past five decades.
DMSP F-19 was launched in April 2014. From operational acceptance in June 2014 to February 2016, the satellite provided thousands of hours of weather imagery to the 557 WW, the FNMOC and the National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland.
While space-based weather assets were originally launched and operated by the U.S. Air Force, a 1994 presidential directive realigned primary command and control of DMSP under the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The DMSP constellation is operated by a coalition of mission partners consisting of the NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations and the 50th Operations Group Detachment 1, both located in Suitland, Maryland.
Specifically the 50th Operations Group, Detachment 1, a component of the 50th Operations Group from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., has Satellite Control Authority and delegates nominal day-to-day operations to the NOAA DMSP operators. A backup operations center, operated by the Air Force Reserve’s 6th Space Operations Squadron, is located at Schriever AFB, Colorado.